In 2020, we launched our online donations platform, DonateFlow, to help struggling charities raise money during lockdown. Since then, charities using the basic version of the platform have raised over a quarter of a million pounds, and the annual figures continue to rise each year as we continue to onboard new clients regularly.
At the same time, we’ve also taken on additional project work to build custom DonateFlow setups for a number of organisations, who have raised close to another half a million pounds using the platform. Throughout, we’ve been learning from what works best and making improvements as we go, and constantly adding new features that we can roll out to everyone.
Now we've launched one of our most exciting new features yet: a direct integration between DonateFlow and the ticketing and CRM system Spektrix.
- Using our new integration, Spektrix clients can collect donations directly in Spektrix without requiring users to log in or create an account.
- For the first time, Spektrix clients can automatically log all recurring donation transactions against a donor's account in Spektrix.
Spektrix and DonateFlow: the way it was
We’ve got a handful of Spektrix clients using DonateFlow, and in general they love it. But in one respect it’s always been a headache for Spektrix users: getting the donation data into Spektrix. This is true even where we’ve built DonateFlow into a bespoke Spektrix-integrated website, like we did with Ely Cathedral. On that site, DonateFlow data still has to be manually downloaded and then re-entered to track donors using CRM tools or claim GiftAid.
This can be particularly painful if you have a lot of supporters who give regularly; another of our Spektrix clients has to spend time each month manually creating transactions in Spektrix to record all the standing monthly mandates collected through DonateFlow. In their words, it’s worth the hour of time to get the richer CRM data in Spektrix, but obviously they’d still rather not have to do it.
There was a good reason why we built it this way. DonateFlow works so well because it’s incredibly streamlined, getting the user from landing page to confirmation page in just three steps. Previously, Spektrix had no way to take payment other than by passing users into their own hosted iframes, which could potentially add several more steps to the process — and the more steps you add, the more people drop off. In that scenario, DonateFlow would be little more than a page where you choose a donation amount, and so the exercise would be largely pointless.
But now all that has changed.
The Spektrix custom payments API endpoint
To make it easier for digital agencies like us to build custom integrations, Spektrix rolled out a new API feature in July 2022 for accepting custom payments. Now, any website can use the Spektrix API to automatically create a transaction using a payment from a third party — like Stripe and GoCardless, the default payment providers we use for DonateFlow.
As a result, we can now use the same, three-step DonateFlow process, with orders written back to Spektrix in real time. For donors, DonateFlow still looks and feels exactly the same. But for the administrators using Spektrix behind the scenes, there’s no longer any need to manually recreate donations in Spektrix. They’re just there.
Recurring donations — directly into Spektrix
It gets better, too. Because we’ve integrated DonateFlow with other CRM systems in the past, it was already able to listen for "webhooks", which are automated prompts sent out by payment providers (like Stripe and GoCardless) whenever a payment is processed. Though the basic version of DonateFlow has no use for webhooks, when we connected DonateFlow to Spektrix, it was easy to turn that listening back on.
This means if a donor sets up a new monthly mandate using DonateFlow, those monthly payments will now get automatically pushed into Spektrix as well — without any humans having to do anything. Every thirty days, DonateFlow will just create a new transaction in Spektrix for as long as the monthly mandate is emitting its webhook. And if a payment fails or the mandate ever gets cancelled? DonateFlow will down tools until it hears otherwise, also without any humans having to do anything.
Spektrix and DonateFlow: the future
Part of the reason we were able to jump on the new Spektrix API feature so quickly is because DonateFlow is built using our proprietary transaction handler, Pass Go. Essentially, Pass Go builds up a transaction behind the scenes — in this case, taking a donation and pushing it to a CRM — by stringing together lots of interchangeable modules that handle different parts of the process.
This meant that all our developers had to do was drop in a new module specifically for creating a transaction in Spektrix. We didn’t need to do anything else around pushing Stripe payments or webhooks into Spektrix because Pass Go already handles that, for any CRM or ticketing system.
Mostly this is a benefit to our developers, but it also means it’s easy for us to further adapt DonateFlow to how other Spektrix clients use it. For example, if you don’t want to use Stripe or GoCardless, we can write a new payments module for whatever your provider of choice is — without needing to rewrite any of the rest of the integration. If you also want some transaction data simultaneously pushed into a different system (like MailChimp or Blackbaud), we can add an extra Pass Go module to do that.
We’re also already talking to our Spektrix clients about other ways we can leverage the new integration. For example, one idea is a separate “MemberFlow”, which takes the basic DonateFlow interface and adapts it to sell your organisation’s memberships through Spektrix, spreading the cost of an annual subscription over several months’ worth of recurring payments. Another could be a simplified “TicketFlow”, whereby special one-off events or festivals that don’t require a full, traditional ticketing path can have their own, stripped back event page that sells tickets as quickly and efficiently as DonateFlow takes donations.
The possibilities are far-ranging and exciting, and limited only by our clients’ imaginations and ambitions — neither of which have many limits to begin with. So if you have an idea for how DonateFlow might work for you, please drop us a line.